Nike Vaporfly 3 Review: Marathon Running Shoes

Last updated on February 16th, 2024

Nike Vaporfly 3 toebox/mudguard/outsole
Nike Vaporfly 3PriceReleaseStyleRetailer
- Hyper Pink/Laser Orange/Black
- full-length carbon fiber flyplate in midsole
- midsole bulges out to reduce weight on inside of foot
- flyknit material features larger perforations
- thin outsole rubber to reduce weight and thickness
- padding on the tongue helps reduce lace pressure
- waffle outsole pattern with perforations saves weight
- offset heel seam helps reduce friction in heel area
- heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
- wider toe area for a roomier fit
- internal foam pod at heel for extra cushioning
$1822023 AprilDV4129-600Nike

The Nike Vaporfly 3, designed primarily for marathons, is a lightweight and comfortable super shoe with a soft and springy feel. While it may not provide the same level of speed support as other high-end carbon racers due to its gentle forefoot rocker, the third version of this shoe has seen enhancements in stability, cushioning, and weight. The forefoot has been made even softer, resulting in a plush ride and increased long-distance comfort, although it may not deliver the same sensation of speed as the Vaporfly 2.

Nike Vaporfly 3 heel counter

If you desire a shoe that provides a snug fit and is exceptionally lightweight, the Vaporfly 3 is a superb option. With reliable stability and a cushioned, energizing experience, it offers an excellent running experience.

If you're seeking a truly long-lasting, high-performance shoe that can withstand both training and racing, the Vaporfly 3 may not be the ideal choice. This is due to the delicate and remarkably soft ZoomX foam it incorporates.

Nike Vaporfly 3 quarter/heel

If you have participated in any race within the last three years, whether it be a 5K or a marathon, it is highly likely that you would have noticed a multitude of Vaporfly shoes at the beginning of the race.

The Vaporfly has gained immense popularity and extensive media coverage due to its status as the first and most accessible super shoe. Furthermore, its price is also within the affordability of most runners, because older versions are now offered at discounted prices through factory outlets and the Nike website.

Due to its widespread appeal and competitive pricing, the Vaporfly has emerged as the preferred super shoe for marathon runners.

However, popularity does not necessarily equate to superiority. My assessment of the Vaporfly Next% 2 took place two years ago, and since then, I have extensively utilized and tested it both during training sessions and competitive races.

I couldn't fully embrace the Vaporfly 2 due to its instability. The lack of stability, particularly in the final stretch of races, left me unimpressed.

Additionally, the toe spring felt less forceful compared to other shoes, resulting in a diminished sense of forward propulsion.

Nike Vaporfly 3 heel/outsole

The Vaporfly, although not at the pinnacle of Nike's super shoe hierarchy, holds its own. With a price tag $25 lower than the Alphafly Next%, it has garnered more favor due to its superior comfort and lighter build. Even among Nike-sponsored elite runners, the Vaporfly remains the preferred choice over the Alphafly.

The Vaporfly, although not at the pinnacle of Nike's super shoe hierarchy, holds its own. With a price tag $25 lower than the Alphafly Next%, it has garnered more favor due to its superior comfort and lighter build. Even among Nike-sponsored elite runners, the Vaporfly remains the preferred choice over the Alphafly.

After a long wait, the eagerly awaited successor to the Vaporfly 2 has finally arrived. With its highly anticipated release, this new iteration has quickly become one of the most significant launches of the year. Boasting a complete overhaul, it has been meticulously updated from its very foundation.

The Vaporfly 3 is impressively lightweight, tipping the scales at just 200 g for men's size 10. This is particularly remarkable when you consider its substantial dimensions, with a 40 mm heel and a 32 mm forefoot.

The dimensions of the Vaporfly 2 were also 40/32, however, the Vaporfly 3 boasts an additional 2 mm of foam and a reduction of 2 mm in outsole rubber when compared to its predecessor. In addition, the new iteration is 0.1 oz (3 g) lighter than the Vaporfly 2.

Nike Vaporfly 3 upper

When I first grasped the Vaporfly 3, I couldn't help but be captivated by the intricate details it possessed. From the meticulously outlined weights of each component on the outsole to the delicate symbols delicately etched onto the tongue, every aspect left a lasting impression on me.

During my initial jog, I engaged in a well-rounded exercise routine consisting of ten one-kilometer runs. Overall, my initial encounter left me with a highly favorable impression. What truly astounded me was the heightened sense of stability, surpassing that of the previous two iterations.

The forefoot of the Vaporfly 2 felt less cushioned and lacked the softness experienced in the new version. The forward-tipping sensation was not as prominent, creating a more comfortable ride. The new upper provided a roomier fit, which I found enjoyable, and the transitions felt seamless and effortless.

I managed to sustain a respectable rhythm during the exercise session, and in the final few repetitions, I pushed myself to increase my speed despite feeling fatigued in my legs.

Nike Vaporfly 3 flyknit upper

The Vaporfly 3's upper showcases notable enhancements compared to its predecessor, the Vaporfly 2. The most significant alteration lies in the increased adaptability of the midfoot and forefoot, resulting in a more comfortable fit reminiscent of a trainer rather than a tight-fitting racer.

I have discovered that the shoe's sizing remains accurate and it is particularly suitable for runners with wider feet, offering a higher level of comfort compared to previous Vaporfly models.

The Flyknit material features larger perforations, enhancing breathability and surpassing any other racing shoe available.

The tongue lacks gussets, but it remains secure with laces threaded through a loop, preventing any sliding. It boasts sufficient padding to shield your foot's top from lace bite. Though the offset lacing is a signature feature, it doesn't offer a significant advantage over shoes with conventional lacing.

The presence of an internal heel counter and padding within the collar ensures excellent heel lockdown when utilizing a runner's knot. I have observed a noticeable improvement in how the collar molds to my foot, eliminating any significant gaps around my ankle that were present in the previous version.

The Vaporfly 3 outshines its predecessors as the ultimate marathon racing shoe. With enhanced cushioning, reduced weight, and improved stability, it offers an unbeatable package for long-distance runners.

Nike Vaporfly 3 sole units

The Vaporfly 2 may not provide the same sensation of speed due to its additional cushioning, but in my view, the trade-off is worthwhile. This year's lightest super shoe offers a remarkably plush and buoyant ride, courtesy of the unparalleled ZoomX foam.

The Vaporfly 3 offers a more amiable experience as a super shoe, catering to runners with footstrikes that may not be perfectly neutral. With its broader foundation, maneuvering around corners becomes significantly simpler compared to earlier versions of the Vaporfly. Its stable ride enhances comfort during slower speeds and on extended runs exceeding 30 kilometers.

The Vaporfly 3 has shown great adaptability, allowing me to comfortably use it for a range of paces, from a steady 6 minutes per km (9:40 per mile) to a blazing fast sub-3 minutes per km (4:30 per mile) during intense intervals.

Personally, I find its true strength lies in its ability to provide a plush and cushioned ride, making it perfect for marathon pace. While it performed well during interval sessions, I do prefer a firmer ride and a more pronounced toe spring for shorter and faster runs.

The midsole of the shoe seamlessly incorporates a carbon fiber plate that goes unnoticed during fast-paced runs, providing a smooth ride without any jarring sensations. Compared to the plates in the Saucony Endorphins (Pro 3 and Elite), the plate in the Vaporfly 3 offers greater flexibility. However, it strikes the ideal balance of rigidity when paired with the softness of the ZoomX material.

Nike Vaporfly 3 quarter/heel

I find myself longing for the aggressive toe spring of the Vaporfly 3 when I go for a run. In comparison to other shoes like the Endorphin Elite and the Alphafly 2, the toe offs of the Vaporfly 3 feel less dynamic and lack the same propulsion.

One of the key elements I miss is the satisfying upward curve of the plate beneath my toes, which provides a strong forward-tipping sensation. This sensation is particularly valuable during races, as it aids in sustaining speed as fatigue sets in towards the end.

The ZoomX foam has undergone a subtle modification to achieve a slightly softer feel. Although I believe this adjustment will cater to the majority of runners, it may prove excessively soft for those seeking exceptional speed. This could explain why elite athletes like Kelvin Kiptum continue to favor the Vaporfly 2, as it offers a more energetic sensation.

The outsole has undergone a transformation, with the ridged rubber forefoot being swapped for a slimmer, waffle-patterned rubber outsole that includes perforations to reduce weight. This adjustment has led to a smoother running experience, with enhanced cushioning upon landing and a heightened connection to the ground. Moreover, the redesigned waffle outsole offers superior traction due to its softer feel and increased grip.

Nike Vaporfly 3 running

The midfoot and rearfoot's central region showcase an uncovered foam material. As expected, this ZoomX foam is exceptionally fragile and is prone to abrasion from the pavement, resulting in the Vaporfly 3's limited durability. In my personal experience, the paint on the rearfoot has already peeled off due to the less prominent heel rubber. The previous iteration, with its thicker outsole rubber, boasted greater longevity.

During longer runs, the Vaporfly 3 provides a more seamless and engaging ride compared to its predecessors. This is due to its flatter outsole, which increases contact with the ground and allows for smoother ride transitions. As a result, runners can effortlessly find their rhythm and experience a more fluid running experience in the Vaporfly 3.

The Vaporfly 3 is a meticulously crafted and ingeniously engineered racing shoe, serving as a remarkable enhancement to the widely acclaimed super shoe. With its reduced weight, enhanced stability, and heightened cushioning, this latest iteration is bound to elevate the series' popularity to new heights. However, it is worth noting that the Vaporfly 3's outsole, which boasts increased ground contact, does compromise its durability somewhat.

Nike Vaporfly 3 laces

Despite the tempting discount on the Vaporfly 2, I would choose the Vaporfly 3 without hesitation. Its wider base provides superior comfort for my running style, as I slightly overpronate. In comparison, the Alphafly 2 falls short due to its narrow midfoot, which tends to dig into my arch and cause blistering.

Rest assured, if you had concerns about Nike compromising the Vaporfly, let those worries dissipate. The Vaporfly 3 remains true to its essence: a sleek, nimble, and safeguarding racing instrument that offers excellent bang for your buck. My admiration for the Vaporfly 3 is profound, as the enhancements are far more impactful than I originally anticipated.

In my opinion, the current focus of this shoe seems to lean more towards the full marathon rather than shorter races. This is due to its enhanced stability and greater cushioning, which gives it a slower yet more comfortable feel compared to earlier versions of the Vaporflys.

In comparison to other high-end super shoes, the Vaporfly 3 lacks the same sense of speed primarily because its toe spring and rocker are not as pronounced, resulting in diminished forward propulsion.

By the way, if you are a marathon racing lover, you may be interested in Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3.